Cultivating a Collaborative Culture
As a manager, you must practice what you preach. Being hypocritical only annoys people. If you tell your team members how you want them to behave, you too have to live up to that behavior all the time. This is as true with managing conflict as it is with any other managerial task.
Your behavior must signal to your team an approach to conflict that encourages the positive aspects of it and discourages the negative parts. This means developing and maintaining a collaborative culture. A collaborative culture is based on these three elements:
Honest communication — let everyone know exactly where they stand. Let there be no secrets, ensure everyone is in the loop. Do not assume that you know what people think — you might be wrong; instead ask them directly for their views. If you have something to say about somebody, say it to their face — do not go behind their backs to tell someone else, otherwise rumors and suspicion will start to fester.
Respect shown to everyone — to get respect from everyone in the organization, you must give it to everyone in the organization; do not reserve it solely for those in high positions. If you respect someone, you treat that person as an equal. It is more than politeness; that can just be patronizing. You need to ask people what they think because you value different perspectives. You do not have to agree with them.
A positive attitude toward constructive conflict — encourage people to express their views and even to disagree with you; show them that everyone can learn from conflict. But to ensure that conflicts remain positive and do not turn personal and negative, insist that people can criticize a colleague only if they have a better solution to offer. That really makes arguments positive and productive.
Creating a collaborative culture through your own actions is essential if you wish to encourage the positive aspects of argument and disagreement in your organization. You can cultivate a collaborative culture by showing respect for everybody, encouraging everyone to communicate effectively, and stimulating constructive conflict within the organization.
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